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Gold Coast 13, North Queensland
12 and snakes, one.
Last night's NRL clash between
the Titans and Cowboys at Robina
Stadium may have been won by the
home team in an arm wrestle but it
was a creature with no limbs which
stole the show.
A three-foot brown snake slithered
onto the grass between the playing
eld and the stands in the south-east
corner of the stadium 10 minutes
into the rst half, sending fans eeing
to higher ground.
e game continued despite the
lethal intruder's presence, with the
snake eventually disappearing down
While the snake's appearance was
a sideshow, it was the Titans who
posted back-to-back wins to move
into the NRL top eight.
e Cowboys led 6-0 at half-time
thanks to a Johnathan urston try
inside the opening 10 minutes with
fullback Michael Morgan surprisingly
outpacing Albert Kelly to a loose
ball late in the half when the Titans
halfback appeared destined for his
fourth breakaway try of the year.
e second half begun with a heavy
shower drifting across the stadium
and the greasy conditions resulted in
a scrappy nal 40.
e Cowboys' poor handling gave
the Titans the levelling try when
Kevin Gordon pounced after Morgan
had spilled a bomb on the goalline.
e home team hit the front when
Cowboys winger Kyle Feldt could
not grasp an Aidan Sezer grubber and Brad
Tighe dived onto the ball.
Sezer, who had only been cleared to play
from a quad injury on the day before the
game, then sealed the points with a eld
goal in the 69th minute.
Prop Matt Scott scored a try after the
siren but it was a mere consolation for the
disappointing Cowboys who were given
an on- eld serve from captain urston
after the match for their error-riddled
Titans pair Ashley Harrison and Paul
Carter could nd themselves in hot water
with the judiciary after both targeted
Cowboy Rory Kostjasyn, Harrison with a
rst-half shoulder charge and Carter for a
urston would not reveal what he said
to his team-mates before slotting the nal
conversion, venting his frustrations after
the Cowboys completed just 25 of 47 sets
and committed 22 errors.
"When you're tossing up the numbers
that you're tossing up, it makes it very
hard for ourselves," the Queensland and
Australia representative star said.
"Training-wise, we need to be better.
Preparation, we need to be better.
"When you're tossing up, what we tossed
up, it makes it very hard and we still only
lost by a point."
While the Cowboys are battling for form,
Titans coach John Cartwright was happy
to grind out another win with his team far
from their best.
"You take any win the way that you can
get it mate," Cartwright said.
" e conditions weren't there for a
owing game ... the games that we've won
have been pretty gritty a airs so we had to
do that again." --- AAP
Canterbury chief executive
Raelene Castle has accused
Andrew Fi ta of jumping
the gun by announcing he
was moving to the Bulldogs
next season before the ner
points of his contract had
Fi ta announced three
weeks ago that he would
leave Cronulla to join the
Bulldogs in 2015 on a four-
year deal believed to be in
the region of $850,000 a season.
e Bulldogs then con rmed the news
the following day --- something Castle
acknowledges was a mistake after she
pulled the plug on the deal yesterday.
"We agreed to a MOU (memo of
understanding) before negotiating a
long-form NRL contract," Castle said.
"When we went through the details of
the contract with Fi ta's management we
couldn't agree so we today we went our
separate ways. Our media policy is that
we don't announce signings until we have
that long form contract signed.
"Unfortunately Andrew was under
media pressure to announce his decision
and he made the decision to announce he
was joining the Bulldogs on Twitter. at
put us in something of a position and we
ended up in a situation that wasn't our
usual media protocol."
Castle refused to divulge what part
of the deal could not be agreed but
maintained the club would not have been
over the salary cap had Fi ta signed on.
"I am not at liberty to discuss the ner
points of the contract and at the end of
the day we couldn't get the deal done,"
she said. " ere have been gures that
are reported that are not correct and
everyone at the club was in agreement
we have made the right decision and we
e decision to scrap the Fi ta deal
will allow coach Des Hasler to sign a
top-class fullback, with Wests Tigers star
James Tedesco sure to be on
the club's radar.
Castle revealed the money
saved on Fi ta would
be used to bolster other
parts of the squad and
acknowledged there was
plenty of depth in the club's
forwards to cope without
"Our forward pack has
been very good over the last
couple of week and we have
a high level of comfort that
we have plenty of depth," Castle said.
" is decision allows us to make other
decisions about the squad."
e representative front-rower made
the shock admission last week that he
wished he had signed to play rugby
instead of joining Canterbury and Castle
admitted she wasn't too pleased to see his
comments, but denied they scuppered the
"It wasn't ideal, but had we got things
sorted with Fi ta's management the deal
would have gone ahead," she said. "It
didn't happen so we agreed to walk away."
e cash-strapped Australian Rugby
Union said they would only be interested
in talking to Fi ta if he was willing to put
rugby ahead of money.
"If Andrew wanted to talk to us, it would
need to be for rugby reasons and not based
on the earning capacity he could demand
in league," an ARU spokesman said. "As
we are aware, we are not involved in his
current or future plans."
Fi ta has represented NSW Country
in junior ranks and earned a place in the
Brumbies development squad.
Brumbies director of rugby Laurie
Fisher said his club would only
be interested in Fi ta if the ARU
"Under the current salary conditions we
wouldn't be able to a ord him," Fisher
said. Fi ta's manager Ben Johnston did
not return AAP's calls.
Tuesday, April 1, 2014
PICTURE: Getty Images
Black Caps Brendon McCullum is stumped by Sri Lanka's Kumar Sangakkara in today's ICC World Twenty20 at Zahur Ahmed
Chowdhury Stadium, in Chittagong, Bangladesh.
PICTURE: Getty Images
Titans Aidan Sezer is tackled after kicking the ball during last night's clash with the North
Queensland Cowboys at Cbus Super Stadium, on the Gold Coast.
New Zealand captain Brendon
McCullum has stressed his team must
look for a turnaround soon if they want
to win a major tournament following
their unceremonious exit from the
e Black Caps were dealt a telling
blow by Sri Lanka, who beat them
by 59 runs in a low-scoring game in
With Sri Lanka dismissed for a
paltry 119, the match was within New
Zealand's reach but left-arm spinner
Rangana Herath demolished them with
gures of ve for three runs in 3.3 overs.
at bowled New Zealand out for their
lowest Twenty20 total of 60 --- overall
third lowest in the shortest format.
New Zealand have only once reached
the semi- nal, way back in the inaugural
edition --- a trend McCullum wants to
"Something's going to have to change
at some stage," McCullum said after the
"Otherwise we'll keep turning up at
tournaments, winning a couple, losing a
couple and never claiming any silverware
and that's not what we play for and
something's going to have to change if
New Zealand's going to start winning
"We've got one at home in a year's time
which better be it."
New Zealand and Australia co-host
the 2015 World Cup (50 overs) in
Regarded as the perennial under-
achievers in world cricket, New Zealand
have only won the 2000 Champions
Trophy in their history.
Chasing a modest target, New Zealand
lost Martin Guptill to a silly run out and
ve balls later McCullum was stumped
o Herath for nought.
" ere was some soft dismissals,
some poor options --- myself included,"
McCullum said, who hit a match-
winning 65 against the Netherlands in
their previous game.
He was lost for words on being all out
for 60, with opener Kane Williamson
contributing 42 of that low total.
"How do you get out for 60? I'm
still trying to work that out as well ---
especially when one guy gets 40-odd,"
" ey bowled really well, but we didn't
bat well. We played across the line to the
ball which was skidding on and some of
us tried to be too aggressive against the
ball spinning away.
"T20 is a game in which you've got to
be convinced in your method... and I
don't think we really committed to our
McCullum admitted New Zealand
were not good enough.
"We're not good enough to only play at
80% and there's some things that irked
me through the tournament and I'll be
addressing those later," he said.
"Our cricket smarts weren't there.
When you're playing on these surfaces,
which are very foreign to what we're used
to, plus with the nature of Twenty20,
where you have to be very smart with
your decision making as well, you can't
a ord to be lacking with your cricketing
intelligence and that's what we lacked in
this tournament." --- AFP
Alex McKinnon is facing life in a
wheelchair after reports emerged that
the Newcastle back-rower has been
diagnosed as a quadriplegic.
e 22-year-old sustained his injuries
last Monday when he landed on his
neck following a three-man tackle
by Melbourne trio Jesse and Kenny
Bromwich and Jordan McLean.
In a tragic sequence of events,
McLean's attempt to lift the former St
George Illawarra player went horribly
wrong leaving him with injuries
that have rocked the game to its
e diagnosis was rst reported on
the Nine Network and was con rmed
last night by the Country Rugby
League on its Facebook page.
"Absolutely devastated by the news
of Alex McKinnon. Doctors diagnosed
Alex a quadriplegic. e Rugby
League family is right behind you," the
McLean will front the NRL judiciary
tomorrow in what is certain to be a
di cult situation for all involved.
e young prop was allowed to play
against Canterbury on Saturday after
initially being stood down by the NRL
and is said to be distraught by the
plight of McKinnon.
Social media was awash with tributes
to McKinnon from gures from across
the game and the world of sport with
Australia test captain Michael Clarke
leading the way.
"Devastating news about Alex
McKinnon. Our thoughts and prayers
are with you during this time," Clarke
One of Australia's greatest
Paralympians, Newcastle-based Kurt
Fearnley also paid his respects.
"Extremely tough turn for Alex
McKinnon. Grateful he's still here.
Life will never be the same for him,
but he will be the same great human!"
On another di cult day for the
Knights, it was announced the NRL,
the Hunter Sports Group (HSG) and
the Members Club are continuing
to work through a uni ed business
Nathan Tinkler had until 5pm
yesterday to come up with the funds to
retain his ownership of the club or the
members would seize control of the
club for a dollar.
However, the NRL's head of club and
state services, Tony Crawford, said the
Knights Members Club and HSG had
agreed to hold o any further action
while the NRL holds discussions with
" e Members Club has agreed
to defer any move to transfer the
ownership of the club so commercial
discussions can take place," Crawford
" ose discussions will be led by the
NRL. In the meantime, it is business
as usual for the Newcastle Knights.
is will give all parties a chance to
explore all options which are in the
long term interests of the Knights.
" e negotiations will be con dential
and could take some time to complete.
None of the parties will make any
public comment until they are
A horror nal round
of 78 has seen Lydia
Ko plummet down the
leaderboard at the Kia
Classic on the LPGA
Tour in California.
Ko's e ort of six over
par saw her nish in a
share of 61st at three-
over for the tournament
and she was well o the
pace as winner Anna
Nordqvist of Sweden
nished the week at -13.
Ko's round yesterday
featured two double
bogeys, four bogeys
and two birdies as the
16-year-old mixed her
form at the Aviara Golf
was hardly the ideal
preparation for Ko
who will start in this
week's rst major of the
year, the Kraft Nabisco
California, as she bids to
youngest winner of a
of the New Zealand Herald
e defending Super
Rugby champion Chiefs
are defying injuries,
set-piece woes, savvy
opponents and statistics
to remain in pole
position in the New
In fact, after the
e ort to draw 34-all
with the Bulls in Pretoria
on Sunday, they seem to
be relying a lot on what
coach Dave Rennie calls
their "spark plugs" o the
bench, namely Gareth
Anscombe, Tim Nanai-
Williams and Augustine
Pulu. All three provided
impetus with their
penetrative running, and
Anscombe himself, just
minutes after scoring a
scorching try, landed a
sideline conversion to tie
e Chiefs are the
best metre-eaters in the
made more than 511m
in ve matches, just
ahead of the Waratahs
ey also make 89%
of their tackles, which
helps explain the fact
they have conceded just
101 points, the second
best in Super Rugby
behind the Waratahs,
according to the Herald
Rugby Stats Centre.
Conversely, they have
won a paltry 70% of
their lineouts, with both
hookers Rhys Marshall
and Mahonri Schwalger
struggling to hit their
e Bulls knew these
numbers at the weekend,
and duly contested the
Chiefs' lineout while
also employing driving
mauls o that set-piece.
One of those drives led
to a penalty try against
Another saw Bulls
anker Deon Stegmann
ere is a case for
Anscombe to assume
the goalkicking role
fulltime if he can crack
the starting XV, but Mils
Muliaina showed most
of his old class from the
back with a super try
in Pretoria and Aaron
Cruden is immovable,
having played every
minute thus far, in the
No 10 jersey.
Cruden's allround play
is hard to fault, but he
does strike the ball at
only 71% o the tee.
e All Black pivot
leads the way with
o oads (11).
Not many Chiefs
feature in the top 25
though that is as much
down to the constant
tweaking of the line-
up due to a high injury
toll or last week when
Rennie wielded the
Williams leads the
carries for the Chiefs,
with 50, and his output
o the pine will give
Rennie serious thought
about promoting him.
He leads the individual
metres gained (268),
just ahead of Asaeli
Tikoirotuma (267) and
15 carries against the
Bulls. In the penalties
conceded category, Ben
Tameifuna leads the way
e good news is that
the Chiefs have not
yet come close to really
hitting their straps over
the full 80 minutes
in 2014, and yet their
record stands at 3-1-1.
It could have been worse
--- they would have lost
to the Crusaders on
opening night, had
brought his kicking
boots, scraped past the
nally put away the
Stormers before the
Force pushed them
round in Perth and the
Bulls all but did them.
It is a good side that
can win, mostly,
without playing their
for 60 runs
e White Ferns have been eliminated
from the ICC World Twenty20 in
Bangladesh, after losing to South Africa by
Despite being their rst loss of the
tournament New Zealand nished third
behind Australia and South Africa with the
other two sides' superior net run-rate seeing
the White Ferns knocked out.
e White Ferns got o to a reasonable
start thanks to a 43-run opening wicket
stand between Suzie Bates (16) and Sophie
Devine (40) before Bates fell in the seventh
Sara McGlashan and Devine got New
Zealand through to 70 for before wickets
began to tumble with seven falling in the
space of 44 runs.
e White Ferns were held to 114 for eight
--- their lowest total of the tournament.
Marizanne Kapp was the key bowler for
South Africa, nishing with gures of three
for 23 from four overs.
Mignon de Preez (51) led South Africa in
their chase, winning with two balls left in the
nal over. --- APNZ
to stay top
Ko finishes well
off the pace in
Alex McKinnon after his injury last Monday night.
Bulldogs ditch Fifita
Andrew Fi ta
McKinnon diagnosed as quadriplegic
White Ferns also eliminated
Snake stars as Titans pip Cowboys
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